Eye on London: Hospitality’s New Guard Looks to China

The Lobby Lounge at London's Corinthia Hotel. (Courtesy Photo)

The Lobby Lounge at London’s Corinthia Hotel. (Courtesy Photo)

Often overshadowed in the past by Paris and New York, London remains one of the top global destinations for Chinese travelers, enticed by the city’s long history, world-class shopping, and homegrown brands. However, as has been the case in New York and Paris, Chinese travelers have traditionally stuck to budget hotels, spending less on five-star accommodations and dining and more on high-end shopping.

Increasingly, this trope is losing steam, as a new generation of affluent Chinese travelers, students, and partial London residents learns to soak up the many advantages a true luxury hotel can offer.

One hotel that has learned to cater to Chinese tourists while making sure not to alienate its traditional guests is The Corinthia in Whitehall Place, which has worked to make the often-intimidating process of staying in a luxury hotel easy for Chinese travelers. In addition to UnionPay acceptance, the hotel has Chinese-speaking staff on hand to help out, and takes the usual in-room tea-and-kettle amenities a step further by providing guests with a wide variety of teas.

The exterior of the Corinthia Hotel in London. (Courtesy Photo)

The exterior of the Corinthia Hotel in London. (Courtesy Photo)

Other touches that are important to Chinese guests, such as breakfast items, are taken into account, with the hotel offering the default congee as well as dim sum, noodles, and more. Joining a range of foreign-language TV channels are China’s CCTV and Phoenix, and guests can request Chinese-language newspapers like Sing Tao as well as British stalwarts such as The Financial Times and The Guardian. The popularity of shopping and British-style afternoon tea is also covered, with the Corinthia’s mini Harrods shop giving travelers a chance to pick up souvenirs and “Traditional English Afternoon Tea” served in the Lobby Lounge.

The Corinthia’s growing brand awareness among Chinese travelers is powered not only by the hotel’s attractive location (near Trafalgar Square) but also the efforts of a dedicated Chinese sales manager. London-based Ivy Jenkins understands that Chinese guests straddle a difficult line between wanting to stay at a property with history as well as modern conveniences. According to Jenkins, “Modernity is one of the most important aspects for the Chinese visitors when choosing a hotel, so the contemporary residential style interiors and 21st-century amenities of Corinthia London are well received.”

These efforts are paying off, with the percentage of Chinese guests increasing as insistence on group tours drops, the visa process becomes easier, and hotel location, history, and heritage take priority over price alone among seasoned Chinese travelers.

Corinthia Hotel
Address: Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7930 8181
Rates: From £378 over Chinese New Year

 

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